Safety guidelines for Halloween, Day of the Dead celebrations
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Halloween and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations will be much different this year. Kids dressed in cute or scary costumes will likely not be going door-to-door in most neighborhoods asking for treats, or tricks, and large gatherings for parties are still a big no-no due to COVID-19.
California recently released guidelines on how people should safely celebrate the annual holiday and they include virtual celebrations and being creative within the household.
Some alternatives that are low risk but still capture the holiday fun include:
• Creating a haunted house or candy scavenger hunt in your home
• Having a scary movie night and Halloween-themed activities (pumpkin carving, face painting) at home
• Participating in online parties/contests (e.g. costume or pumpkin carvings)
• Attending car-based outings where people do not leave their car including drive-in events, contests or movies; driving through an area with Halloween displays
• Eating a Halloween-themed meal with your household (alone or with up to two other households, not including your own, for a meal outside following all other gathering guidelines)
• Enjoying a Halloween-themed art installation at an outdoor museum with your household
• Dressing up homes and yards with Halloween-themed decorations
• Giving treats at home only to those in your household.
• Send a curated playlist or themed treats (or tricks) to your friends ahead of time.
• Designing face masks that reflect your children’s Halloween costumes
• Prepare a Halloween basket for your children or Halloween hunt in your backyard
Safer Alternatives for Día de los Muertos
The safest way to celebrate Día de los Muertos is to spend time with people in the same household or to celebrate virtually. Some alternatives include:
• Altars: Consider placing and creating your altar in a front window or outside so others can view from a safe social distance.
• Virtual Altar: Create a virtual space to honor lost loved ones. Share with family and friends via email or social media.
• Cemetery Visits: If you visit the cemetery, only visit with those you live with, wear masks and maintain appropriate social distancing. Limit time spent to minimum necessary.
In general, the more people from different households with whom a person interacts, the closer the physical interaction is, and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher the risk that a person with COVID-19 infection — symptomatic or asymptomatic — may spread it to others.
Trick-or-treating without necessary modifications promotes congregating and mixing of many households, particularly on crowded doorsteps, which can increase the spread of COVID-19. That type of mixing is not currently permitted in California. Additionally, if there is a positive case discovered, it will be very challenging to do appropriate contact tracing to identify all those who have been potentially exposed.
To protect yourself and your community, you should not go trick-or-treating or mix with others outside allowed private gatherings this Halloween season, said a press release from the city.
Personal protection measures
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate Halloween or Día de los Muertos it is important to keep the following in mind:
Face coverings: Face coverings must be worn in accordance with the CDPH Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings, unless an exemption is applicable. Please note plastic, rubber, vinyl and other Halloween costume masks are not an acceptable substitute for cloth face-coverings for the prevention of COVID-19 spread.
Practice social distancing: Avoid confined spaces, especially indoors. Stay least 6 feet away (three or more adult steps) from all other people who are not part of your own household, especially while talking, eating, drinking, and singing.
Good hygiene: Wash or sanitize your hands often. Clean frequently touched items regularly.
Minimize mixing: Plan activities to limit mixing between different households. Currently gatherings of more than three households are prohibited in California. Residents are permitted to gather with a maximum of two other households. This means that on Halloween, if you are spending time with others, you must stick with a maximum of three households (including your own), and not mingle with others.
Stay home if sick or are in a high risk group: If you are sick, or you have been in contact with someone who is sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19 stay home, and away from others. People at higher risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 (such as older adults, people with chronic medical conditions) are strongly urged to stay home. If you are sick or in a high risk group, you should discourage trick-or-treaters from coming to your door by turning off your porch light and other Halloween decoration lights on Halloween night.
“Please respect your neighbors and your community,” said the city in a press release. “Everyone is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic to the best of their abilities and has different comfort levels about what is safe to do. Your local community or your neighbors may be more restrictive than these CDPH guidelines, and we ask that you respect your neighbors’ wishes and concerns.”
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